Three E-mail Marketing Services to look at

I have a weekly e-newsletter that goes out to my pharmaceutical clientele, and for that, I use Constant Contact. Why? Because I saw their logo at the bottom of other newsletters that I received over the years, and when it was time to start my business, they were a familiar name. And, I’ve had no disappointments – it’s been easy to use, without glitches.

I have also heard good things about ExactTarget, and I’m sure they’re worthy of consideration as well.

If I were starting from scratch, however, I’d certainly take a look at Emma. Why? I love the “attitude” on their website. And then there is this testimonial. And, they’re in Nashville, next to my old stomping grounds at Vanderbilt. Some people shy away from the human element in their web presentation, but these folks revel in it, and for certain types of services, I think that is quite appropriate.

Back to the Past

Every once in a while, my eye catches an advertisement on-line that forces me to click – not because I care one whit about the thing being advertised, but because the graphical design or message is so compelling.

Yes, I’m sick. I know.

This morning, it was a banner ad for Ancestry.com. I thought that the logo, the color combinations, and the typeface were so well put together, that I had to go to the site. And I was not disappointed. A great site design – very pleasing to the eye. Somebody with real talent did this interface.

I have a mild interest in genealogies – nothing inordinate – but if I ever want to dig deeper into the past, guess where I’ll go?

A not-so-regular marketing campaign

The Wall Street Journal’s Marketing section this morning has a very interesting article about P&G’s new marketing approach for Metamucil, the fiber supplement typically marketed for “regularity.”

Now, they want to tap into the endless well of vanity/health/beauty dollars by re-positioning it as a product whereby you can “Beautify Your Inside.”

From the article:

Nowhere do the ads mention “regularity” or “constipation,” as the old ones did. Instead, a voiceover coos that Metamucil does more than “cleanse your body,” and explains it is useful in reducing cholesterol and fighting heart disease. “Just add Metamucil to your already diva-conscious diet, and your insides will be haute, haute, haute,” say the print ads that will start this spring, featuring a young, slim model with the caption, “Drop-dead gorgeous guts.”

“When you feel healthy on the inside, it really does affect how you project yourself on the outside, and how you really look,” says David Corr, executive creative director for Publicis Groupe, the agency that created the Metamucil ads. “Sure you want to put on a nice dress, but why wouldn’t you want to tone your insides, too?”

I have three things to say about this morning’s marketing read:

1. P&G’s approach is brilliant. I predict that it will succeed. People will grasp at anything to try to feel both beautiful and healthy, so why not some intestinal mascara?

2. The WSJ did a great job of tantalizing to the article by putting an enticing picture up on the masthead, with a lead-in to the article entitled, “Why P&G sees Beauty in a Laxative.” Great blurb – somebody there has been digesting the book Made to Stick.

3. This whole thing about inner beauty via fiber intake is a crock, of course. It also leads to some imaginatively funny alternative taglines, most of which I cannot write in this blog.

Well, I’d better stop here – time to shower, shave, down some castor oil, and face the world!

Giving Citi some credit

It’s easy to pick on the foibles of various companies when they do something wrong. But it’s always nice to point out when a company does something right.

I recently got a Citibank credit card. I had a minor issue to clear up, so I called the toll-free number shown on the card. From there, FOUR things went right:

1. Almost immediately on the automated phone system, the option was given to reach a human being. Having just yesterday been through touch-tone purgatory with my ISP, this was a refreshing change.

2. A person picked up right away. On a Saturday morning. Nice.

3. As I explained the situation, she instantly understood the issue and said she’d take care of it. No fuss, no muss. Nice job, Yvonne.

4. Then, when I mentioned one slight anomaly on the website when I logged in, she said she’d have the web person take care of it right away.

How to build customer appreciation and loyalty? Here’s a good 4-part starting point!

New DVD – it’s in the cards

One of my sons just came home with the new James Bond DVD (Casino Royale). Ah, but this was no ordinary DVD packaging. This oversized box contained, not only the 2-disc movie edition, but also 2 decks of cards (with Casino Royale “branding”) plus one high-quality poker chip.

I’ve always been a fan of “enduring” give-aways – swag that you can’t bring yourself to throw away because it is perceived to be too valuable, too useful, too unique, or too attractive. Pens – too much competition. Labeled candies – barely any shelf life. But these playing cards won’t be easy to toss out. My Impactiviti tile coasters – too nice to toss. I also find it very difficult to toss pads of writing paper – I still have some from conferences years back.

If you’re going to give out a goodie, make it something hard to part with – be sure it passes the “toss test”!

Chuck talks

Great billboard put up by Charles Schwab, as we approach tax season. Very simple, very effective:

IRA. Or IRS.

What else needs to be said?! Punchy and compelling message, with 8 letters. Fabulous.

Are your ideas Made to Stick?

This will be the best business book I’ll read all year. I know that already.  And if you need to communicate with other people (who doesn’t?), it may be one of your top picks also.

Made to Stick has the telling subtitle, Why some ideas survive and others die. The main thesis is this: there are ways to package your ideas that allow them to stick in the minds of your audience. Building on a key concept (“stickiness”) from Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal book, The Tipping Point, authors Chip and Dan Heath uncover the anatomy of ideas that embed themselves into the minds and hearts of people.

 The book is clearly written, very approachable, and filled with memorable examples that, of course, exemplify the main intent of the book. The principles outlined are nothing earth-shatteringly new, but they are presented in such a way as to provide a practical call to arms for more skillful and creative expression.

According to the authors, communication that sticks needs to maximize simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional connection, and the use of stories. When you think of some of the world’s best communicators, you see the fingerprints of these practices all over their preserved productions.

This is a passion of mine – distilling down to the core idea and expressing it well, whether in writing, public speaking, teaching, or any other format. I see this skill as the key success factor in creating good branding – but I think the principle applies equally to training, copywriting, and even parenting. I recommend this book highly to anyone who seeks to communicate more effectively.

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